'He has become the scapegoat' - Manjrekar on Virat Kohli at No.4 suggestions
Sanjay Manjrekar offered his views on the ongoing debate whether Virat Kohli should consider demoting himself to No.4 if required ahead of the Asia Cup and the 2023 World Cup and reckoned the legend has become a "scapegoat" due to his greatness.
The debate was given birth to by former head coach Ravi Shastri, who said part of his discussions with then chief selector MSK Prasad heading into the 2019 World Cup involved potentially trying Kohli at No.4 on the back of the right-hander's highly impressive record at the spot.
While middle-order incumbents KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have been deemed fit for the looming Asia Cup, Shastri had said prior to the selection day the Ajit Agarkar-led panel and the team management led by coach Rahul Dravid should think of demoting Kohli from his No.3 spot to solve a major issue.
Manjrekar responded to this thought by insisting the 34-year-old must not be sacrificed when his best impact value for the side is at one-down, with a legendary track record at No.3. Shastri's ex India and Mumbai teammate said to fit in youngsters like Ishan Kishan in their ideal position at the top, India should not tinker with the position of their best player.
Manjrekar refutes Shastri's Kohli at No.4 idea
To back his point, Manjrekar reminisced of the time when India controversially asked Sachin Tendulkar to be the linchpin to their middle-order and batted him at No.4 at the team's disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign under coach Greg Chappell and skipper Rahul Dravid.
"The more and more you talk about other options like Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli seems to get relegated. He has sort of become the scapegoat in the sense that you bat him at No.4 and all your problems are solved," Manjrekar told Star Sports.
"There is also a cultural issue in Indian cricket. In the 2007 World Cup, the team management of Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell sent Tendulkar at No.4 instead of opening because they had people like Virender Sehwag and others at the top of the order."
"But that became a huge controversy. So it is really up to Kohli, an iconic player, on whether he wants to bat at No. 4. It seems like a perfectly simple solution, but it concerns Kohli," he added.